US troops offered extra time off if they stop getting arrested
US Army troops in Alaska have reportedly been offered a special deal: They will earn extra time off if their company can simply go 90 days without having any drunk-driving arrests or failed drug tests.
Major General Brian Eifler, commander of the 11th Airborne Division, offered the new incentive in a policy memo last month, Military.com reported on Friday. It applies to each company, artillery battery and cavalry troop under his command, meaning units of around just 100-200 soldiers will be able to earn extra time off if all of them can stay out of trouble for three months.
The division was reactivated earlier this year, uniting about 12,000 soldiers from Alaska’s Fort Wainwright and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson under one flag as part of the Army’s strategy to militarily dominate the Arctic region.
Eifler, who has commanded US Army forces in Alaska since July 2021, faces serious morale issues in the ranks. At least 11 soldiers stationed at Fort Wainwright and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson died by suicide last year, and six other deaths were being investigated as possibly self-inflicted. There were seven suicides in 2020. A 2019 Army study found that troops in Alaska had multiple risk factors for suicide, including isolation, poor quality of life and alcohol use.
“We’ve got a lot of things going on in the world right now, a lot of things that we’ve got to pay attention to, but this is what’s hurting our soldiers, so we’ve got to figure it out,” Eifler told reporters in Anchorage earlier this year. He added that Alaska’s extreme environment can magnify mental health problems.
A soldier who was stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson was reportedly indicted by a grand jury this week on murder and manslaughter charges in connection with a fiery crash that killed two people last month in Anchorage. Matthew Davis, 23, allegedly caused three collisions in the early morning hours of August 21 after a night of drinking at numerous bars. One of the crashes killed an 18-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man. Davis allegedly fled the scene of the first two crashes and was finally stopped when he was injured in the third collision. He told police that he had 10 to 15 drinks and was too drunk to remember driving.